Getting With The Fermented Fuss
Fermented foods are highly beneficial for health as they are rich in good (live) bacteria’s and enzymes. The process of this happens through lactic acid fermentation where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch creating lactic acid. This means that our bodies don’t have to do as much work to digests and absorb the food as it is "pre-digested". This process preserves the food and created beneficial enzymes and bacterias.
Humans from all parts of the world have consumed fermented foods in their diets since the ancient times. Foods like cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, wine, kvas and breads were consumed to sustain long voyages and keep those warm in cold winters were fresh produce wasn’t available.
Fermented foods appears to be a far less commonly consumed part of the diet in the modern world. We all manage to eat some yogurt that may still contain some live bacteria, or eat at Korean restaurants enjoying Kimchi. Apart from the occasional consumption of these foods, we have forgotten how to feed ourselves fermented food daily.
The lack of fermented food in the diet leads to an increase in bad bacteria throughout the digestive tract. If we are low in good bacteria, then the bad bacteria have a chance to flourish. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, constipation, itchiness (Candida), and parasites have a chance to invade the digestive environment.
Benefits of Fermented Food
The lactic acid in fermented foods decreases Phytic acid absorption. Phytic acid binds to minerals preventing the full absorption and can leave you feeling bloated. For instance non-fermented soy products are high in Phytic acid. Nutrients such as Iron are inhibited form their absorption. Fermented soy has a decreased level of Phytic acid, aiding nutrient absorption to increase. The availability of Isoflavones (protective nutrients) is higher in fermented soy, which is great for menopausal women.
Fermented (pre-digesting) Milk into Yogurt or Kefir helps break down the lactose, making it more easily digestible. This means those with slight lactose sensitivities can often still consume yogurt.
Consuming fermented foods increases beneficial bacteria to the digestive system. Probiotics benefits are recognized in many clinical trials for digestive disorder, atopic conditions, immunological conditions and even mental health (Shah, Cruz, & Faria, 2011).
Fermented foods last longer naturally. Fermentation is a great natural preserver as lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria.
Water Kefir, Coconut Kefir, Milk Kefir and Kombucha are easy to make and delicious. Wine also contains beneficial enzymes (how exciting!), this is why a glass or two of red, goes so nicely with a heavy meal. Beer is also fermented, but if you can make your own with rice instead of wheat its even better! There is a few beers on the market that fermented with rice so read the labels and ask around. Homemade Root beer is also fermented.
Yogurt, can be made at home from cows milk, coconut milk, goats milk, almond or rice milk. All you need is a live bacteria to start the process and you’re on your way. When buying yogurt, purchase yogurts containing Live & Active Cultures on containers.
True Sour Pickles, Cheese, Sauerkraut, Sourdough Bread, Pickles, Kimchi, Fish sauce, Soy sauce, Miso, Vinegar, Tempeh, Sprouts and almost all vegetables can be fermented.
The vast benefits of fermented food are clearly becoming evident and a requirement for optimal health. Why not make your own basic fermented foods such as yogurt, sprouts or Kefir. Here is a easy recipe to get you started below.
I hope this information has given you an insight to some almost forgotten traditional health benefits. Make it part of your wellness path to include an abundance of fermented foods in your diet.
100% Coconut milk
1. Stir with wooden spoon Kefir grains in coconut milk and cover with a tea towel. Leave out for 12 -24 hours. 2. Check the coconut Kefir after the 1st 12 hours every few hours. 3. Remove the Kefir grains once reached the desired consistency and refrigerate.
Writen by Sandi Louise Ross
Naturopath, Nutrition and Acupuncture
Niraamaya Centre Thailand
Shah, N. P., Cruz, A. G. d., & Faria, J. d. A. F. (2011). Probiotic and prebiotic foods: technology, stability and benefits to human health. Hauppauge, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers.